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Thursday, Jun 8, 2023


They’re at it again. Palmdale and Lancaster, which routinely squabble over which one gets the next new car dealership or Wal-Mart, have begun playing out their sibling rivalry on, well, a more dramatic stage. The two neighboring Antelope Valley cities are about to begin competing for the lucrative film location business. The Palmdale City Council last month allocated $82,000 for an office to attract film production companies to the area. But Lancaster city officials insist that the Antelope Valley Film Office, established less than two years ago, markets all of the Antelope Valley (Palmdale included) and a second office would just be redundant. “I was amazed,” said Lancaster Mayor Frank Roberts about the announcement that Palmdale was setting up its own office. “To my knowledge, we served Palmdale well.” Not exactly, said Palmdale’s Mayor Jim Ledford. “We’ve seen their brochure, but I don’t think it has any services for Palmdale in it,” he said. Palmdale and Lancaster have competed for business for years, undercutting each other’s deals to attract companies to their cities. “There’s always been a sibling rivalry going on between the two cities, and often it comes in the area of economic competition,” said state Assemblyman George Runner, R-Lancaster. The latest squabble actually began about five years ago, when the two cities began discussions to set up a film office to represent the entire Antelope Valley. Lancaster officials say they gave Palmdale the chance to join in for $100,000 but the city chose not to ante up. Palmdale officials say they turned down the offer because they wanted an accounting for the money and because Lancaster insisted on housing the film office in its city. According to Lancaster, the Antelope Valley Film Office, financed to the tune of $100,000 per year from Lancaster only, has included Palmdale in its listings of available services anyway. “What’s good for the whole valley is good for each of us,” said Mary Ryckebosch, president and CEO of the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce. No one’s arguing, said Mayor Ledford. Trouble is, “You get what you pay for.” He figures that as long as the Antelope Valley Film Office is paid for by Lancaster, it will be obligated to service that city’s merchants at the expense of any others. Long a favored locale for wild west movies, Antelope Valley has more recently served as the location for the border road scene from the opening sequence of ” Men in Black.” The flat, rocky desert terrain can double for Arizona, Texas or Mexico; the fields of 3-foot-high grass can stand in for America’s heartland; and the sandy, high-desert areas can look like the Middle East. Lancaster insists Palmdale shared equally in the $26 million that filming has brought to the Antelope Valley since the film office was established last year. According to Jeff McNeil, the film liaison for the Antelope Valley Film Office, the valley has hosted 310 productions and the two cities have added 34,447 room nights to their coffers. Not only does filmmaking fill hotel rooms, it brings business to local dry cleaners, caterers, restaurants and lumber yards as well.

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